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posted by hubie on Thursday April 25, @04:18PM   Printer-friendly

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Since Framework showed off its first prototypes in February 2021, we've generally been fans of the company's modular, repairable, upgradeable laptops.

Not that the company's hardware releases to date have been perfect—each Framework Laptop 13 model has had quirks and flaws that range from minor to quite significant, and the Laptop 16's upsides struggle to balance its downsides. But the hardware mostly does a good job of functioning as a regular laptop while being much more tinkerer-friendly than your typical MacBook, XPS, or ThinkPad.

But even as it builds new upgrades for its systems, expands sales of refurbished and B-stock hardware as budget options, and promotes the re-use of its products via external enclosures, Framework has struggled with the other side of computing longevity and sustainability: providing up-to-date software.

Driver bundles remain un-updated for years after their initial release. BIOS updates go through long and confusing beta processes, keeping users from getting feature improvements, bug fixes, and security updates. In its community support forums, Framework employees, including founder and CEO Nirav Patel, have acknowledged these issues and promised fixes but have remained inconsistent and vague about actual timelines.

Patel says Framework has taken steps to improve the update problem, but he admits that the team's initial approach—supporting existing laptops while also trying to spin up firmware for upcoming launches—wasn't working.

[...] Part of the issue is that Framework relies on external companies to put together firmware updates. Some components are provided by Intel, AMD, and other chip companies to all PC companies that use their chips. Others are provided by Insyde, which writes UEFI firmware for Framework and others. And some are handled by Compal, the contract manufacturer that actually produces Framework's systems and has also designed and sold systems for most of the big-name PC companies.

As far back as August 2023, Patel has written that the plan is to work with Compal and Insyde to hire dedicated staff to provide better firmware support for Framework laptops. However, the benefits of this arrangement have been slow to reach users.

[...] Framework puts a lot of effort into making its hardware easy to fix and upgrade and into making sure that hardware can stay useful down the line when it's been replaced by something newer. But supporting that kind of reuse and recycling works best when paired with long-term software and firmware support, and on that front, Framework has been falling short.

Framework will need to step up its game, especially if it wants to sell more laptops to businesses—a lucrative slice of the PC industry that Framework is actively courting. By this summer or fall, we'll have some idea of whether its efforts are succeeding.

    Framework Laptop 16 Review: A Modular Marvel, but a Mediocre Gaming Laptop
    The Framework Laptop is an Upgradable, Customizable 13-Inch Notebook Coming This Spring

Original Submission

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The Framework Laptop is an Upgradable, Customizable 13-Inch Notebook Coming This Spring 36 comments

The Framework laptop is coming this spring (hopefully) a laptop that can be upgraded and repaired easier then most machines today on the market.

The Framework Laptop is an upgradable, customizable 13-inch notebook coming this spring:

A San Francisco-based startup called Framework has just launched an ambitious project: a thin, lightweight productivity laptop that it claims can be "upgraded, customized, and repaired in ways that no other notebook can."

Framework founder Nirav Patel told The Verge that the company aims to address his long-standing frustrations with consumer technology companies. Patel was one of the original Oculus employees and has worked for Apple as well. During that time, he says he "saw an industry that felt incredibly broken across the board."

"As a consumer electronics company, your business model effectively depends on churning out constant tons of hardware and pushing it into channels, and into market, and into consumers' hands, and then sort of dropping it and letting it exist out there," Patel explains. "It encourages waste and inefficiency, and ultimately environmental damage."

To that end, Patel sees the Framework Laptop as more than a product — he sees it as an ecosystem.

The Framework comes with a 13.5-inch 2256 x 1504 screen, a 1080p 60fps webcam, a 55Wh battery, and a 2.87-pound aluminum chassis. Inside, you’ll get 11th Gen Intel processors, up to 64GB of DDR4 memory, and “4TB or more” of Gen4 NVMe storage.

[...] Framework will be taking preorders this spring, and the device is expected to ship this summer. Pricing hasn’t yet been announced, though Patel says it will be “comparable to other well-reviewed notebooks.”

Original Submission

Framework Laptop 16 Review: A Modular Marvel, but a Mediocre Gaming Laptop 19 comments

If you're a PC hardware geek who's been dreaming of a laptop that you can upgrade far beyond the life cycle of a typical machine, Framework's modular notebooks must seem like a miracle. The American company has a straightforward pitch: What if your laptop could be nearly as customizable as a desktop, with the ability to swap components out for repairs and upgrades? What if we could put an end to disposable hardware? We were intrigued by Framework's original 13-inch notebook and its Chromebook variant, despite some rough edges and a basic design. Now, with the Framework Laptop 16, the company is targeting the most demanding and (arguably) hardest group of PC users to please: Gamers.

Framework has already proved it can build compelling modular laptops, but can the Laptop 16 cram in powerful graphics, a fast display and other components to keep up with the likes of Alienware, Razer and ASUS? Sort of, it turns out — and there are plenty of other tradeoffs for living the modular laptop dream. Hardware quirks abound, battery life is mediocre and it still looks like a totally generic machine. But how many other notebooks could let you completely upgrade your CPU or GPU in a few years? Who else offers a customizable keyboard setup? In those respects, the Framework 16 stands alone.

[...] I was genuinely bummed to discover that it was a fairly mediocre gaming machine, at least for its high price.

What do you think? Is having a laptop that you can upgrade more important than having the fastest laptop on the block? What price would you pay for being able to upgrade your hardware?

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Freeman on Thursday April 25, @07:15PM

    by Freeman (732) on Thursday April 25, @07:15PM (#1354536) Journal

    I would love one for work, if I got to choose what kind of hardware I get to use. In the event that I traveled quite a bit and actually needed a laptop, I would be sorely tempted to buy one. While the price isn't great, the potential to just upgrade the system board and re-use the old one in a random project/wife's desktop on the next refresh is compelling.

    Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"